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The Secure Hash Standard (SHS) is five hash algorithms that can be used to generate message digests. The digests are used to detect whether messages have been changed since the digests were generated.
The message digests range in length from 160 to 512 bits, depending on the algorithm. Secure hash algorithms are typically used with other cryptographic algorithms, such as digital signature algorithms and keyed-hash message authentication codes, or in the generation of random numbers (bits).
The five hash algorithms specified in this standard are called secure because, for a given algorithm, it is computationally infeasible 1) to find a message that corresponds to a given message digest, or 2) to find two different messages that produce the same message digest. Any change to a message will, with a very high probability, result in a different message digest. This will result in a verification failure when the secure hash algorithm is used with a digital signature algorithm or a keyed-hash message authentication algorithm.